Some of you know that we've had a slew of health issues with Teddy since his birth - GERD, dairy protein intolerance and weight loss. We're in a better place now then we've probably ever been but there's a lot of "maintenance" required and a lot of doctor's appointments. We decided to finally meet with a nutritionist this week to see if we could help Teddy gain weight a little quicker. They gave us a food log which we had to fill out using the most detailed descriptions of his diet, down to the ounces. The night before his appointment I was so nervous. I felt like the food log served as some sort of written proof of my failure to be a "good mother." There were way too many mentions of cheddar bunnies, mac and cheese and granola bars and not enough kale. I went into the appointment feeling like someone would jump out from behind a desk and announce that I am an unfit mother.
To my shock and awe the nutritionist not only did not berate me but actually commended me on Teddy's diet. She said considering how picky toddlers are around this age we are giving him a good variety of foods. We decided on some sneaky methods of getting more calories in him (peanut butter with apples and bananas and drenching everything else in butter, lol) but for the most part she seemed pleased with what we had been doing.
And it hit me on the drive home how our incessant striving for perfection hurts not just ourselves but those around us. For as long as I've been a mother there have been countless women on social media, in magazines and so on "sharing" all the myriad of ways that they prepare barley, kale, butternut squash and wheat grass for their babies. Every time I gave Teddy or Birdie cheddar bunnies and cheese and called it lunch I felt guilty. Every time I allowed them to devour their mac and cheese and re-arrange the broccoli on their plate I felt guilty. Every time I fed them chocolate, ice cream, chips and juice I felt guilty. And don't get me started on the McDonald's trips, I pay for those with hours of self-flagellation. It's always been a sore subject with me, I felt like I should be doing so much better than I have been but life man... Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day or patience in my possession.
And to feel this way for more than four years and then be told that I'm actually doing a good job by a professional... It feels like such a weight has been lifted. And it also revealed to me that most people are probably not being completely forthright. Because we ALL have bills to pay, diaper pails and dishwashers to empty, laundry to wash, fold and put away, trash bags to remember to buy, husbands to kiss and books to read and dinners to cook. And 90% of the time I am too busy, tired, impatient and stressed to spend hours creating Chef's Table worthy dinners for a toddler that will eat 30% of it on a good day and mash the rest into the carpet. Can I get hand from all the mamas that consider a half-empty bag of tortilla chips and a two clementines lunch? Can I get a hand for all of us that let our family's breakfast consist almost exclusively of cookies in the month of december? Can I get a hand for all of us who lay in bed at night and frantically go over the day's meals to ensure that there was at least one serving of fruits, vegetables and dairy somewhere in there? Chocolate is dairy right??
In the end I think life would be so much easier and simpler if we tried to be more realistic. Yes, we all start the day promising ourselves that today is the day we make everyone that kale smoothie and cancel netflix. And by lunch time we're all on our third cup of coffee and fourth season of Peppa Pig. And it's ok. They will live. We'll live and life goes on. Sometimes we get around to the smoothies or the pureed sweet potatoes. Sometimes we spend all day playing on the floor with our kids. Some days we are Gwyneth Paltrow, so goopy the queen herself would feel threatened. But neither scenario needs to be glorified or vilified. They're not good or bad, they just are, they're both real. As a society we have such a difficult time accepting contradictions, we want everything color coded and lined up in ascending order. But life rarely works that way. We have wooden blocks and we have netflix. We have chocolate milk and steel cut oatmeal. We had six pm bedtimes and we have the nights where we're all up past midnight.
It's alright to aim for the ideal, to have goals and aspirations. But not at the cost of our sanity and self-esteem. Let us this year give ourselves the gift of grace. Let's try and not get high and mighty when we have a good week and let's not descend into the abyss of self-loathing when our kids complain that they already have that McDonald's happy meal toy. For the third time. Just as we are taught in yoga to let our breath simply pass through our body let's try and learn to let our moods and emotions simply pass through us as well. Because good day or bad we all start out hoping and wishing to do and be our best, whether or not we accomplish that every time is not an indication of poor character, that's just life.